When to Put Your Cat Down Checklist? – Say Goodbye to Them

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

when to put your cat down checklist

Saying goodbye to your cat is one of the hardest things to do. So, deciding when is the right time to say goodbye to your cat is not guaranteed.

But in this article, we have given advice as to when to put your cat down checklist.

As a cat owner, you need to consider your cat’s well-being by ticking off the quality of life checklist. This list includes cats’ eating habits, hydration, hygiene, mobility, and mental status.

When Is It Time to Put Your Cat Down?


There are reasons to put down a cat and these include cats having a fatal illness, loss of mobility, and behavioral issues that could not be treated. Aside from these, you can also consider your cat’s eating habits, hydration, and hygiene.

A cat quality of life chart will be a good guide as to whether your cat can still hang on or if it is time to put them down peacefully.

1. Terminal illness

If your cat has cancer at the final stage, it is a hard decision, but at some point, you should decide when to let go of your cat and opt for euthanasia.

Cancer and any other terminal or incurable illnesses at a severe stage can be painful for your cats, making them suffer more if they do not respond well to medication.

You should consult a veterinarian and pay close attention to your cat’s health conditions, such as:

  • Extremely weak and lethargic as it loses track of its surroundings, mostly in a sedentary state.
  • Body temperature dips super low, and it feels cold.
  • Bad smell emits from its body.
  • Lies in a corner and refuses to eat or drink.

2. Loss of Mobility


When your cats lose most of their mobility, meaning they find walking hard and painful, it’s one indication for you to consider putting them down.

Osteoarthritis is one of the common joint problems in cats. This is where the cats feel pain upon walking or moving their joints.

This joint disease is mostly seen in elderly cats. Although this could be soothed with some medication, if the cat has stopped reacting to such treatments, it is better to talk with the vet regarding euthanasia.

3. Behavioral Signs


Make sure you consult with the veterinarian for behavioral issues if your cat is too aggressive that it keeps hurting others.

However, there are cases when a cat shows uncontrollable aggressive behavior that harms other pets and people for a long period. Once it becomes a severe behavioral issue that cannot be corrected by a specialist, it can be one point to guide potentially end-of-life care.

4. Eating Habits


When cats constantly refuse to eat and drink, from their favorite food to every daily meal you try to feed them, they are suffering from major sickness. There might even be a lot of vomiting and shaking.

You should be prepared to say farewell to your cat if it has difficulty eating, has a constant loss of appetite, or only consumes through a feeding tube. This may indicate that they have a bad quality of life and require substantial care.

5. Dehydration

There are instances wherein a cat will stop drinking water. Although there are cases wherein a cat can live without drinking water for two days, anything more than that will cause death to them.

This is most likely true for older cats. That is why you should ensure that your older cat gets enough water in its body. When the cat is experiencing dehydration, it’s advisable to consult with the vet regarding putting your cat down rather than making them suffer.

5. Hygiene


A cat with bad hygiene will lead to many parasitic health problems. These issues will be a danger to your cat’s health. That is why your cat must be clean and free from parasites.

One indication that your cat suffers from a parasite health issue is when it stops grooming itself. This is a sign that, maybe, it is best to put them down.

6. Happiness Level

One way to know if it is time to put down your cat is when they seem not happy anymore. Suppose you notice that they have lost interest in living, and they do not express any response to you or their surroundings.

They might not respond to your patting or greet your family members or play with their toys. In that case, it means that they have a very low quality of life. Thus, you might need to contemplate if it’s better to say goodbye to them.

By using the cat quality of life calculator, pet owners will determine if it’s time to euthanize their cats to avoid more suffering on their cats’ end.

When Not to Put Your Cat Down?

There are cases wherein the owners will put their cats down because they need to move places and cannot take their pets with them, or their pet doesn’t fit their plans anymore.

If this is the case, instead of euthanizing them, it is best to put them to adoption or find someone who can take care of them. This is especially true if the cat has a high quality of life.

If you feel like you cannot handle taking care of your cat, or you are not capable of doing so, try to reach out to the community of cat owners, animal care organizations, and even your vet.

I’m sure they will be able to help you care for your cat.

Frequently Asked Questions


Factors to consider when deciding when to euthanize a cat

These are the factors you need to consider when deciding whether or not to euthanize your cat:

  • Loss of appetite and not eating enough
  • Noticeable weakness
  • Being more in solitude and not interacting with you or any pets
  • Has respiratory problems
  • Refusing to drink water
  • Seems lost and confused

These are just some of the signs that you can take note of in determining whether your cat has a good quality of life.

To further delve into this, try checking the quality of life scale for cats attached below:


Read more: When to euthanize a cat with kidney failure and IBD?

How do you know when your cat is ready to be put down?

For you to know if your cat is ready to be put down, you should look into whether they are experiencing dying cats stages.

These are the signs that your cat is dying:

  • They stop eating food or drinking water
  • They are experiencing some incurable and terminal disease
  • They have a low body temperature.
  • They stop grooming themselves
  • They become loners

Does my cat know he was being put to sleep?

No, your cat will not know that he was being put to sleep. This is because the procedure of euthanasia starts with injecting excessive anesthesia.

Once it was injected, it would lose all its consciousness after seconds.

Do cats suffer when they are put to sleep?

No. When cats are euthanized, they will only feel the needle puncture and that’s it. The anesthesia sets off and they will become unconscious. The process will become painless for your cat.

Will my cat forgive me for putting her to sleep?

It is painful for us as cat owners to let go, but it is also our responsibility to make sure that they feel happy living their life.

This is hard to answer because we will not know for sure what your cat will feel upon knowing that you put them to sleep. It would depend on their personality. But regardless, what you can only do is tell your cats why you are doing such a thing and explain to them that you are doing it to stop their suffering.

How to cope with putting a cat down?

Here are ways to help you cope with putting your cat to sleep:

  • Acknowledge your grief process.
  • Reach out to anyone that could understand and support you at this trying time.
  • Keep yourself preoccupied with a new activity or hobby


In this article, we have provided an answer to the “when to put your cat down checklist”. This checklist will be your guide in regard to your decision of ending your pet’s life.

Hence, to know when is the right time to put your cat down, it is important to consider the overall energy of your cat. If your cat seems not interested in living another day due to its illness, mobility issue, or pain, it is better to choose to say goodbye to them rather than putting them into a whole lot of suffering.

5/5 - (1 vote)